For Sales: Practice Makes Perfect – by Paul Alves

I’m often surprised at how few sales professionals practice their craft.  Did they not listen to their parents when they told them “practice makes perfect”?  Or do they think that they don’t need to practice?  In my experience 100% of sales people can improve, a full 80% need to improve.

Perhaps they think showing up to work everyday is enough.  I would agree if I saw most sales people succeeding, however that is not my experience. (My sales team excluded, of course). Just showing up, and even working really hard is not enough.  In fact, I have come across many successful sales people that enjoy great success without working really hard.  They work hard, but by working smart they create efficiency.  With efficiency comes more results with less effort.

Part of working smart and being efficient is including practice and professional development into the mix. Practice with your manager or co worker, not your prospect!  You will learn more and won’t risk losing a potential opportunity.

On the practice side, I suggest having mock sales conversations with colleagues, raising and handling objections as if you were on a live sales call. Practice is engaging in anything that helps you to improve, talking through past and present sales processes and discussing what worked and what did not is a great way to improve. Practice improves efficiency, being more efficient means closing at a higher rate.  Those who close at a higher rate do so because they are better, they are better because they put effort into getting better.  There is no such thing as a “born salesperson”.  You might be born with the basic skills, but those skills have to be developed over time.

Another way to improve is through reading, I am shocked at how little sales people read.  There are a ton of great sales books, as well as general business books, that could make a significant impact on performance regardless of experience level.  I have never read a book where I did not learn something valuable, just one small tip or technique can make a huge difference.

Those who put the same level of effort into improving their sales skills, as they might into improving their favorite hobby or leisure time activity, more often than not find themselves with more time and money to spend on those very activities. So yes, more time and effort dedicated to work equals more time and money to spend outside of work.  A formula for success inside and outside of work.

Give it a try, and let me know.


Paul Alves is Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder AG Salesworks.  He started the company in 2002 with his business partner and AG Salesworks President and Chief Operations Officer Peter Gracey.  In his current position, Paul is responsible for developing and executing long term corporate strategy and building overall company value.  He is also serving as the acting Vice President of Sales with oversight responsibility for driving corporate revenue.  Prior to founding AG Salesworks, Alves and Gracey worked together at Webhire (now Kenexa), a software firm selling applicant tracking software to companies ranging from startup to Fortune 500.

Paul began his sales career in 1980 by founding his first business as a hot dog vendor in his hometown of Jamestown Rhode Island, using the profits to finance his private high school and college education.  “Paul‘s hot dogs” is still in business today.  Since then Paul has run his families top rated restaurant, where he was executive chef, worked as a Stock Broker at Morgan Stanley, and spent several years building and managing sales teams in the mortgage industry.  Paul lives in Jamestown RI, with his wife and two children.

When he’s not at work, Paul enjoys spending time skiing and at the beach with his family, cooking and practicing Bikram Yoga. He’s also a passionate advocate for improving the education system in the United States.  His two children attend The Compass School, a charter school in Kingston, Rhode Island where Paul is currently working with the development committee to raise funds for the schools expansion plans which includes two additional buildings and 20 acres of land. Paul earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Marketing from Plymouth State University.

“By providing an environment where our team can grow professionally, financially and personally we are able to develop and maintain a team of professionals who set the standard for excellence in this industry. Having access to this level of talent brings tremendous value through best in class process to the sales & marketing teams of our clients.”

Paul Alves,
Chief Executive Officer